The Doorkeepers of Knowledge

Cupore – Center for Cultural Policy Research is a forum for discussion and debate on cultural policy issues both in Finland and internationally. Cupore not only supports and carries out research and development work but also monitors and assets information from reliable sources, processes that information and transmits it to the relevant bodies and organisations. Our new website aims to present the work we are doing in good and clear manner by using good science communication.

Science communication generally refers to public communication presenting science-related topics to non-experts. The main task of Cupore is generate support for further scientific research and study on cultural policy and Finnish culture and to inform decision making in the wide field of Finnish culture, including cultural institutions, ministries and other governmental bodies.

We wish to emphasis the effectiveness of cultural policy – as well as the impressiveness of Finnish culture. In recent times there has been more public discussion about the Finnish economy, innovations, and industry than cultural life. Still I believe that only few dare to question the importance of a firm cultural basis. Imagine the nation without diverse art and cultural life, the vitality and sense of continuity and community that come into being from this rich cultural basis.

The question is how to communicate about the results of our research? In which form the facts, figures and effectiveness of various indicators are comprehensible for decision makers as well as audience at large. In many ways we at Cupore are like doorkeepers of important knowledge and facts for the purpose of evidence based policy. This is why we should consider carefully how, why and whom we will present our message. The main question probably is how, and this leads me to the short story I read – again – during my Christmas break. Good old, wise Chekhov knew what is in common between the frightening theatre attendants and scholars.

“…In my childhood and early youth I had for some reason a terror of doorkeepers and attendants at the theatre, and that terror has remained with me to this day. I am afraid of them even now. It is said that we are only afraid of what we do not understand. And, indeed, it is very difficult to understand why doorkeepers and theatre attendants are so dignified, haughty, and majestically rude. I feel exactly the same terror when I read serious articles. Their extraordinary dignity, their bantering lordly tone, their familiar manner to foreign authors, their ability to split straws with dignity—all that is beyond my understanding…”(1

1)      (Anton Chekhov, A Dreary Story, The Tales of Chekhov, Vol 5, Translated by Constance Garnett (Original: Skuznaja istorija, Severnyi vestnik 1889) http://www.gutenberg.org/files/1883/1883-h/1883-h.htm#link2H_4_0004

Marjo Mäenpää

Director, PhD
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Marjo Mäenpää